Air pollution is the largest environmental health risk in Europe, as recognised by the World Health Organisation and the UK government, which is why Bristol City Council has developed a programme of clean air actions to help individuals and organisations make easy changes to the way they travel.
Clean Air Day, led by the charity Global Action Plan, is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign and this year’s theme is ‘protect our children’s health from air pollution’.
Poor air quality causes heart and lung diseases, it is also linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development and may even contribute to mental health issues. Every year, air pollution contributes to 300 deaths in Bristol.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “As a council, we have ambitious plans to improve the air we breathe, how we travel and make Bristol cleaner and safer for everyone. Big changes lie ahead and we’re committed to leading a just transition for Bristol – one that is fair, improves health and creates a better environment for everyone.
“Supporting people and communities to take action is a significant part of our approach to improving air quality and responding to the climate and ecological emergencies. We’re all in this together. We want everyone to be a part of the transformation.”
Bristol City Council actions include:
- Making it easier to walk and cycle for short journeys and use public transport for longer journeys. Recent improvements include the pedestrianisation of the Old City area, the closure of Bristol Bridge to general traffic, new bike lanes and widened pavements. Further improvements are planned across the city.
- Improving the air quality and environment outside of schools by piloting more Bristol School Streets and encouraging parents to leave their car at home during the school run.
- Introducing a Clean Air Zone that charges older and more polluting vehicles to drive in the city.
- Working with the West of England Combined Authority and neighbouring councils on ambitious plans for a mass transit system for Bristol and the surrounding area. It will revolutionise how we travel and significantly improve congestion and air quality. There’ll be a public consultation later this year.
- Making it easier for residents to switch to electric vehicles by installing public electric vehicle charge points and asking people where they’d like more charge points.
- Supporting businesses to reduce heavy goods vehicles entering the city and switch to more greener ways of transporting goods. The One City Plan aims to have 95% of city centre deliveries made by electric vehicles within 10 years. In January 2021 we gave £100,000 to Zedify to set up an innovative new zero emissions delivery hub and fleet of electric cargo bikes and trikes.
- The council are also raising awareness of the dangers of burning solid fuels, in open fires and wood-burning stoves, which has a significant impact on air pollution.
The council cannot solve the challenge of reducing air pollution in Bristol on its own. Everybody can have a positive impact on air quality and there are simple things individuals and organisations can all do to reduce air pollution and help make Bristol a healthier place for everyone.
Councillor Helen Godwin, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Families, Education and Women, said: “Air pollution affects everybody. It can result in serious health impacts, especially in vulnerable people such as the young, elderly, and those with respiratory problems.
“Poor air quality is not a fact of life. We can solve our air pollution crisis and there are simple steps we can all take to avoid toxic air and cut down on the pollution we emit.
“We can walk or cycle more, especially for short journeys. Walking, cycling, or even scooting to school is a fantastic way to start the day and helps reduce air pollution near schools. Turning off your car engine when you’re not moving can help make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians.
“By doing these simple things we can all reduce our pollution and help make Bristol a healthier and cleaner place for everyone.”
Actions everyone can take:
- Walk or cycle whenever you can
- Shop local
- Turn off your car engine whenever you’re not moving and it’s safe to do so
- Use public transport
- Try walking the kids to school as much as possible, but at least twice a week
- Limit or stop use of wood burning stoves and don’t burn wood on an open fire
- Recycle your garden waste, never burn it
- Save energy at home by regularly servicing your central heating boiler
Find out more about the actions Bristolians can take to improve air quality on the Clean Air for Bristol website: www.cleanairforbristol.org